GLENDALE, Ariz. (August 30, 2021) – Delta Dental of Arizona, through its Foundation, has announced a $330,000 grant to fund a newly launched Hospital Oral Care and Periodontal Disease Education (HOPE) program at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, an Age-Friendly Healthcare System recognized by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
A report from the U.S. Surgeon General noted that oral problems in older adult and disabled populations are the most common unmet health needs, and that oral diseases are often related to general health problems. In geriatric medicine, poor oral health increases hospitalization risk due to both infectious and non-infectious diseases.
“HOPE will address the oral health of patients at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, age-65 and older and adults with disabilities. This program establishes a minimum of twice-daily oral health protocols for senior patients and those at high risk for periodontal disease who may be unable to connect to dental health resources in their community,” says Allan Allford, president and chief executive officer of Delta Dental of Arizona. “This medical-dental collaboration very specifically executes Delta Dental’s mission of improving lives through optimal oral health.”
“Of all patients admitted to Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix annually, 42 percent are over age 65, making it the ideal location to launch this partnership,” says Dr. Nimit Agarwal, Director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and the Center for Healthy Aging at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix. He adds that even though people are living longer, it does not necessarily mean that they are living healthier. “With more than 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 everyday, it is imperative that healthcare systems address the healthcare needs of older adults now by identifying practice gaps and introducing quality improvement measures to manage complex and chronic medical issues,” he says.
The grant will support an oral health navigator to educate and support patients across hospital units and departments and collaborate with case managers and social workers to identify barriers to care and facilitate access to dental services and oral healthcare for the highest-risk patients. The grant will also fund the establishment of an oral health standard of care in geriatric medicine which will then be implemented across all of Banner’s Arizona hospitals, oral-health training for nurses and other medical providers, and an oral-health patient assistance fund to support patients needing financial assistance in order to access dental care.
This is one of many investments Delta Dental of Arizona has made to support oral health across Arizona. In addition to its 2021 Foundation grants, which awarded nearly $775,000 to 30 local organizations to support oral health services and education, Delta Dental recently awarded a $100,000 grant to support Pacific Dental Services® Foundation Dentists for Special Needs, a family-friendly, sensory-integrated dental nonprofit dental office. According to the recently released Delta Dental Institute’s 2020 Community Impact Report highlighting the investments the Delta Dental companies and their foundations made in 2020 to advance oral health, respond to COVID-19, and address health inequities and disparities, Delta Dental of Arizona impacted the lives of 346,818 individuals in Arizona by investing $1,787,734 in 54 community impact programs.
About Delta Dental of Arizona
Delta Dental of Arizona is the leading dental benefits provider in Arizona, serving more than 1.2 million enrollees and more than 3,500 contracted dentists across the state. Passionate about oral health and its importance to generations of families, Delta Dental of Arizona has worked for nearly 50 years to improve oral health by emphasizing preventive care and making dental coverage accessible to a wide variety of employers, groups and individuals. Since 2010, Delta Dental of Arizona, through its Foundation, gave $12 million to support oral health education and disease prevention programs for underserved and uninsured communities across the state. For more information about Delta Dental of Arizona, visit www.deltadentalaz.com.
About Banner Health Foundation
Established in 2001, the Banner Health Foundation engages the community and stewards charitable contributions to advance Banner Health’s nonprofit mission of making health care easier so life can be better. Contributions are invested locally to support patient care programs and services operated by Banner’s many hospitals and health care facilities across Arizona. For more information, visit www.bannerhealthfoundation.org.